It is logical to feel annoyed and hold grudges against people who have hurt you in one way or the other because the harm could last a lifetime; in the case of casualties. Over time, I realized that when I hold a grudge, it leaves me with negative emotions towards the offender and doesn’t give me space for growth and healthy relationships, I don’t know about you.
I’ll let you into my life a bit. Growing up, I used to be a very jovial happy child, without boundaries, and very accommodating until one day, I suddenly started drawing back, creating boundaries and avoided creating relationships. Years passed, I met new people, stepped into new phases, got hurt, even more, was betrayed, broken, and messy, geez! You’d believe I was born an introvert, weird, and one who found nothing interesting. More than you can imagine, pain, and hurt can affect someone even for a lifetime.
However, the word FORGIVENESS, the concept, and everything it entails puzzled me. I thought it was unfair for someone to wrong me and even move in with life, and I’ll have to be the one letting go of the hurt. What wasn’t clear at the time was that forgiveness isn’t letting go of the offense, hurt, or reconciling with the offender, it isn’t giving an excuse or condoning the hurt, rather it’s something bigger. What then is forgiveness?
Accepting an apology or saying “I forgive you” is not forgiveness. Amazingly, forgiveness can occur without ever conversing with the offender. Forgiveness is an emotional change that occurs within the person who has been wronged, rising above your feelings. It is the decision to overcome the pain that was inflicted by another person. It is letting go of anger, resentment, shame, and other emotions associated with mistreatment, even though they are logical feelings. It is choosing to treat the other person with understanding even though they don’t deserve it.
Sometimes, wrongdoers aren’t aware of the hurt they caused you. Environment, background, upbringing, and so many other factors affect development which in turn creates individual differences. Take for example someone who constantly compares you to someone else, it could be that he was raised by parents who can’t avoid comparison and in turn, the child wasn’t exposed to a better way to get things done better except by comparing one to another and he chose that path(because it works). It will take a lot of unlearning and learning to stop that habit. Same with critics, toxic people, and anyone who uses harsh words. You should understand that people are different but never justify or condone the hurt in trying to understand the person. It’s possible to understand someone without believing that their actions are acceptable in anyway.
Back to my story, until I chose to heal and went into therapy. Abused as a child by someone so close and trusted is painful and traumatic, yes, I get it. It’s the case for so many young people. There are two(2) common effects; complete shutout, and nonchalance. I set boundaries and the door was closed to new relationships, friends, anyone at all, and all the while I didn’t feel happy but I just seemed to not care what anyone thinks or makes of it. But as I said, the wrongdoer usually moves on with life and now the ball remains in your court, what do you choose? Happy? Or Sad? The offended feel more effect by the hurt. Whether you seek revenge or justice, you are at the receiving end. How long will you nurture your pains? How long will you hold on to negative emotions? How long will you say no to happiness and healthy relationships? The weight is more than your strength, let go already. I know you’re tired, I’ll show you how to go about it.
How To Go About A Hurt
Forgiveness is difficult but possible. There are four(4) stages of forgiveness. I recommend a journal or a book at this point, you’ll need to pen down answers.
- The Uncovering Phase; During the first phase of forgiveness, you will enhance your conception of the offense, and how it has affected your life. The effect could be a practical cost(e.g money or time), change of perception(e.g people are wicked), painful emotions(e.g sadness or anger), physical harm(e.g injuries from abuse), cognitive rehearsal(e.g constant thinking of the wrong), and changed behavior(e.g avoiding relationships).
- The Decision Phase; During the second phase, you will gain a profound understanding of what forgiveness is, and decide to choose or reject forgiveness. Start by defining forgiveness, and write what will be different when you forgive the wrongdoer.
- The Work Phase; During the third phase, you will start to see the offender in a new way, which will allow positive feelings toward the offender and yourself. Start by writing what might have resulted in the offense, then describe the feeling you currently have/feel toward the offender, and write how your feelings have changed throughout the process.
- The Deepening Phase; During the final phase of forgiveness, you will further decrease the negative emotions associated with the wrong. You may find meaning in the experiences, and recognize ways in which you have grown as a result. Write down how the offense has helped you grow stronger, write your new worldview, write your response to new relationships, write your emotional changes.
Sometimes, you might be hurting from something you think you caused. Not to worry, choose to forgive yourself today and you’ll be fine. It’s so great to know you took these steps. Congratulations, I’m proud of you!
Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times sevenMatthew 18:21-22
Lastly, I’d love you to know that people will always wrong you, and no matter how little it is forgive. Let me know your thoughts on forgiveness in the comments section, gracias!
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